All posts by boldpigeon

founder and co-conspirator of the boldPIGEON

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Arts Market, 790 Queen St. E.
Psyche, 708 Queen St. W.
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Borgo Uomo, (Mens Clothing) 87 Cumberland St.

Check out twistedmetalinmotion.com for more information

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The RATIONAL POST – SLANG HUGH “Invisible Bully like the Gooch”

Invisible Bully like the Gooch

It was lunch time and all the kids had filed out to the playground. Some to the slides, others to the monkey bars, a few avoiding the physical activity altogether and laid under a tree making animals out of the cloud formations in the sky.

I was trying to avoid my own version of physical activity. See Scott (I can’t remember his last name) who was slightly bigger than me back then, I had yet to grow into my current 6’2, 230lbs frame, had decided he wanted to fight me. And just like his last name I can’t remember why. I’m sure it was an adolescent sized conflict. Something as world ending as, I lost his favorite marble, or I had beat him badly in a foot race. Whatever it was, Scott had centred his world war 3 sights on me. I don’t even remember why I didn’t want to fight. My guess is I had the same attitude then, I do now, and I’m not trying to get punched over foolishness. Plus I’d never been in a real fight before that, the ones with my sister over the remote control for the TV don’t count! And had no desire to test my Daniel Son crane kick that day.   Scott however was very ready, too ready in my opinion, and maybe that made me even more wary of the fisticuffs. His aggression and my passivity resulted in a slow speed chase around the playground. Him goading me with “C’mon!! Let’s go!! C’mon!!” and me avoiding with the “I don’t want to fight, leave me alone!” as I speed walked away from him. He gave chase and when he caught up to me, made the move that placed the straw on the camel’s back, he knocked my hat off and it landed in a muddy puddle. And it was on!!

Needless to say I lost that fight that day, it was a quick one, with a trip and a punch to the eye. But Scott never bothered me again, I think because I eventually stood up to him. In hindsight if I had continued on that slow chase around the playground, into the soccer field and thru the marble games, and avoided him until the bell rang for us to go inside, it may never have stopped.   He probably would have waited for me at 3pm to finish what HE had started.

After school I didn’t run home and tell my parents another kid at school bothered me. Not because I was strong and secure as a child that I didn’t need them to console me or give me advice, but simply because it was a normal. In my mind this is what happened at my age, this is how little boys sorted out their problems. All my friends had been in fights. The older guys, a couple of grades higher did the same. We fought it out in some lame tussle which didn’t have much punches or pain involved, and was quickly parted by mutual friends. And when it was done, you both shook hands and moved on or you didn’t speak to your opponent for a solid week, which back then seemed like a year!

Even TV shows of the era displayed this same mentality. Popular Diff’rent Strokes character Arnold Jackson had a long time, very covert, adversary in The Gooch. A character we never seen on the show, but his scary presence in Arnold’s life was established. I don’t remember Arnold ever telling Mr. Drummond about the Gooch, or that he needed counselling as result of the trauma the Gooch caused him. There were no scenes of little Arnold looking into a mirror one morning and deciding that suicide was a definitely better than going to school that morning. The most he did was told his older brother, or come up with schemes to outsmart his nemesis. Now I can’t speak for Arnold, but I know that my situation made me stronger. That was the last time I had a bully. I learned quickly to use my words in combat, and whether through making you laugh or feel too ashamed, I’d find a way to make you leave me alone!! It didn’t hurt that my Grandfather’s genes kicked in at age 16 and I sprouted to 5’11.

Nowadays instead of Arnold and the Gooch, kids are watching, shows like 13 Reasons Why. A show that some are saying, is glorifying suicide and making it an appealing method of revenge to teens. While others think that it’s a good conversation starter.   I can see both sides have valid arguments. However the former, rings with a little more truth than the latter. Especially in this day and age, pun intended. It seems that our youth have gotten increasingly more sensitive over the last couple generations. And I’m not sure why this is. Have we coddled them a bit too much? Did we give them a false sense of self, to the point of weakness, when the intent was to build strength? Did we not warn them of the pitfalls of life and teach them how to cope? What happened? I think we taught them that weakness is ok, and it is, but we forgot to tell them that they would have to overcome weakness, or succeed in spite of it.

The irony is that in an age of social media, where our kids and teenagers keep selling their peers a bag of goods, when it comes to their image. All insecurities and shortcomings seemed to be emojied, memed and filtered out. In an era that says as long as you can take a pic of your new Jordans and post statuses of how many Zero Fucks You got left to give, you must be strong and got it all together. But the reality is suicides are on the rise. “In 1980 50 females between the age of 10-19 committed suicide, in 2008 the number rose to 77”. And that was 10 years ago, so we can imagine what its like now. Perception however is key in this.   While we’ve seen a rise over the last 10 or more years, the 1950s and 60s were a lot worse in this regard. This was back when there was no PSA commercials about mental health, no campaigns by charity to start the “war on Bullying”, none of that existed. Now we seem to have a microscope on teen angst. To the point where the suicide rate is becoming a chicken or egg theory in itself. Are we creating awareness for a major problem? Or creating more of a problem out of the awareness?   This is what people have taken issue over in shows like The 13 Reasons Why. We may be pouring more gasoline on the fire by showing these young adults and younger adults the imagery of a glamorized irrational state of mind set too cool music and hip lingo laden script.   We may be teaching yet another generation that it’s ok to be mentally or emotionally weak (which is not the problem), and kill yourself as a result (which is a MAJOR problem)! By no means am I downplaying depression and its effects, I’ve been on the edge myself in my adult years, so by no means can I judge someone who is contemplating ending their situation by ending their life.

However, there is a difference between creating awareness and promoting, and the line may be very thin in 2018. I once saw a video that spoke about depression and it pretty much sums up my view, the brother, whose name I can’t remember started with “you are not depressed, you are suffering from depression.” What he meant was that we often make our circumstances define us rather than the other way around. You are not depressed, that is only a state of mind. I saw a lot of criticism for this theory. People saying he is making a mockery of mental health, or softening what it can cause people to do. To which my question is simple. Do you believe your mind is strong enough to get you into depression but not out?!? If that answer is yes, then you might also be in full agreement with this anti-bullying campaign. I recognize not everyone is the same and some of us need more help than others, but sometimes we are a part of the problem more than we are helping it.

But hey Diff’rent Strokes for different folks, and I just rather more Arnold Jacksons than Hannah Bakers in our High schools and Universities.

– SLANG HUGH

Slang Hugh can be found on instagram @slanghugh

THE RATIONAL POST – SLANG HUGH – ONE BALL ISN’T ENOUGH

Not Enough Balls…

Genius. Albert Einstein. Steve Jobs. Michael Jackson. Michael Jordan. Eccentric, rare and often misunderstood. Often dismissed as crazy.  In my opinion, crazy is a necessity for a genius.  Greatness isn’t forged from used molds.  It’s created with a unique spark, an uncanny ability to look not only recognize the Matrix but find a way to write new code. Make new rules.  Your own rules!
Now trailblazers aren’t responsible for the trees that are chopped down and left in their wake.  Their eyes and efforts are focused on the prize, clearing a new path.  Any damage caused is collateral.  It’s a path to the dream, and if you’re not on the yellow brick road, easing on down with the Dorothy the genius, then maaaan, fawk ya, let the wicked witch have your visionless ass.  Enemies will be made along the way.  Simply because the way one thinks is different from anyone else’s.  One man fits the criteria.  One man may be eligible for the title he has already bestowed upon himself.

Genius. Albert Einstein. Steve Jobs. Michael Jackson. Michael Jordan…. and LaVar Ball? Yes, you read that right LAVAR BALL!!! Is he polarizing? Yes. Is he off putting? Yes. Is he different? Unique?  Creating enemies? Blazing paths?  The answer is simple and it’s not A, B, or C.  It’d D ALL THE ABOVE.  YES!!

Is he a genius? Before I answer that question, let’s examine the man.

A black man in America, who has managed to raise, 3 sons who ALL have full scholarships to a top division 1 university. Not 1. 3! His eldest Lonzo is projected to be top 3 2018 NBA draft pick, after having a very successful year at UCLA.

Let me repeat, A Black Man in America!  The chips are already stacked again him and the bad cards have been dealt before he even sat at the table.  The big boys of the game already are looking at you with the “who are you again?” Face.  Yet Lavar boldly spits in that Face of authority while yelling “I need 2 billion!!”. To Nike. To Adidas. To Reebok. To whomever.

And while we laughed at this man and told him he was crazy.  He smiled and told himself he was a genius…a genius with a plan!! A father with a plan for his sons.  A blueprint for the empire!  Their empire!! Doing the very thing that any father should try to do.  Make a kingdom for their princes to one day rule over.  in the case of the royal Ball brother it’s not a crown they have been passed but a shoe company. Understand this, that $500 shoe – that even I will admit is a bit steep for my lower middle class pockets – is a crown jewel in the cap of King LaVar’s cap.   He has made his first born, the FIRST black athlete, not with his own shoe.  His own shoe Company!

The only draw back to genius is that its not recognized until results are shown. And the Ball family’s genius title rest heavily on the shoulders of its eldest son Lonzo. In the words of Skip Bayless, Lonzo has the target of a tattoo bigger than Lebron James’ “chosen one” emblazoned on his skin. Will he be able to carry that mantle? Will he be able to meet his father’s lofty expectations and predictions? Will he be better than Steph Curry and Lebron? Either way I’m not so sure he has to be THAT good, but he must be DAMN good!! But only time will reveal if the son truly must pay for the sins of the father.

As for the father, I often wonder what our real problem is with LaVar. Is it because he dares to defy the rules? Is it because we in the norm can’t comprehend what goes thru the mind of a mad man aka genius? Is it because we rarely see the image of a black man, demanding respect, commanding power, from those that he may be worthy to challenge, all while building a future for his family that is already making history? The irony is, he may be unworthy in the eyes of John Public, but in his mind and effort he is worthier than us, who dare to criticize. And that makes it clear to me, that there are not enough Balls in the world!

 

Genius. Albert Einstein. Steve Jobs. Michael Jackson. Michael Jordan. Eccentric, rare and often misunderstood. Often dismissed as crazy.  In my opinion, crazy is a necessity for a genius.  Greatness isn’t forged from used molds.  It’s created with a unique spark, an uncanny ability to look not only recognize the Matrix but find a way to write new code. Make new rules.  Your own rules!
Now trailblazers aren’t responsible for the trees that are chopped down and left in their wake.  Their eyes and efforts are focused on the prize, clearing a new path.  Any damage caused is collateral.  It’s a path to the dream, and if you’re not on the yellow brick road, easing on down with the Dorothy the genius, then maaaan, fawk ya, let the wicked witch have your visionless ass.  Enemies will be made along the way.  Simply because the way one thinks is different from anyone else’s.  One man fits the criteria.  One man may be eligible for the title he has already bestowed upon himself.

Genius. Albert Einstein. Steve Jobs. Michael Jackson. Michael Jordan…. and LaVar Ball? Yes, you read that right LAVAR BALL!!! Is he polarizing? Yes. Is he off putting? Yes. Is he different? Unique?  Creating enemies? Blazing paths?  The answer is simple and it’s not A, B, or C.  It’d D ALL THE ABOVE.  YES!!

Is he a genius? Before I answer that question, let’s examine the man.

A black man in America, who has managed to raise, 3 sons who ALL have full scholarships to a top division 1 university. Not 1. 3! His eldest Lonzo is projected to be top 3 2018 NBA draft pick, after having a very successful year at UCLA.

Let me repeat, A Black Man in America!  The chips are already stacked again him and the bad cards have been dealt before he even sat at the table.  The big boys of the game already are looking at you with the “who are you again?” Face.  Yet Lavar boldly spits in that Face of authority while yelling “I need 2 billion!!”. To Nike. To Adidas. To Reebok. To whomever.

And while we laughed at this man and told him he was crazy.  He smiled and told himself he was a genius…a genius with a plan!! A father with a plan for his sons.  A blueprint for the empire!  Their empire!! Doing the very thing that any father should try to do.  Make a kingdom for their princes to one day rule over.  in the case of the royal Ball brother it’s not a crown they have been passed but a shoe company. Understand this, that $500 shoe – that even I will admit is a bit steep for my lower middle class pockets – is a crown jewel in the cap of King LaVar’s cap.   He has made his first born, the FIRST black athlete, not with his own shoe.  His own shoe Company!

The only draw back to genius is that its not recognized until results are shown. And the Ball family’s genius title rest heavily on the shoulders of its eldest son Lonzo. In the words of Skip Bayless, Lonzo has the target of a tattoo bigger than Lebron James’ “chosen one” emblazoned on his skin. Will he be able to carry that mantle? Will he be able to meet his father’s lofty expectations and predictions? Will he be better than Steph Curry and Lebron? Either way I’m not so sure he has to be THAT good, but he must be DAMN good!! But only time will reveal if the son truly must pay for the sins of the father.

As for the father, I often wonder what our real problem is with LaVar. Is it because he dares to defy the rules? Is it because we in the norm can’t comprehend what goes thru the mind of a mad man aka genius? Is it because we rarely see the image of a black man, demanding respect, commanding power, from those that he may be worthy to challenge, all while building a future for his family that is already making history? The irony is, he may be unworthy in the eyes of John Public, but in his mind and effort he is worthier than us, who dare to criticize. And that makes it clear to me, that there are not enough Balls in the world!

– SLANG HUGH

Slang Hugh can be heard as part of the Podcast “The Man Dem” alongside Sir Toks –   and found on instagram @slanghugh 

Children of the Form – The Rational Post – SLANG HUGH

Clothes Don’t Make the Child

“Dear parents….who told you, you needed to be your child’s friend in order for them to grow. Who told you that letting them have relationships was best for them? Who said allowing your daughter’s to wear mac instead of showing her beauty was love. Did back pack companies close and Michael Kors take over? When did bundles replace bubbles and lashes instead of pencil? Dear parents when did living through your child become the new lick then throwing your daughter’s to the streets once she’s taken some…. listen if being a “new aged” mom is what’s the best then I guess we have failed our children.”
Courtesy of ~Chevy Nicole Lewis

 

That’s not much more for me to add. Well other than countless examples of Instagram pics posted by parents proudly displaying their life sized, Gucci and Prada babies for all the digital world to see. Have we really become this superficial? This materialistic? Are we so image based, that even our children are unknowing victims of our own visual insecurities?  Perhaps this could be chalked up to another generation gap scenario. Maybe I’m too long in the tooth to properly chew and swallow what you modern parents are selling.  Turning your children into mini “yous”, as if God’s gift came in a box with a plastic window and the words “Your Baby” emblazoned across the front. But this is the wave right?  Well I guess I’m too old to surf then. I’ll often look at these pics and remember a time in my late teens, early 20s, when I was at my clothing obsession peak!  In those times, all my summer earning at my Dad’s place had gone to FUBU, Adidas, and Helly Hanson jackets. And I was making pretty good money at that age, so you can imagine how much Champs and The Bay was making off my summer factory sweat.  But I remember one time, coming home and my mother watching me come in with yet another shopping bag in my hand, with a look of disappointment on her face. I figured she was saddened at my waste of money, when she shook her head. I was partly right. She said “you don’t know how I wish I didn’t dress you guys up in all that clothes when you were kids?” I almost asked her why but I already knew the answer.  Her disappointment wasn’t in me as much as it was in herself. She felt like she started me on that path of image means everything way before the Sprite commercials.  That she contributed, if not planted the seed in my head that clothes make the man, the man don’t make the clothes.  And though I’d never blame my parents for my actions, I can see where her theory makes sense.  Perhaps her innocent attempt to make sure I had more than she did, started me on my fashion fixation. Many years and many many wasted shoe dollars later, I finally get it.

I get that we all want to give our kids more than we ever had.  I don’t even have children and I can fully understand that ideal.  But sometimes giving them more of the material is taking away from building their character.  No one is saying to dress your children in Stitches and Giant Tiger garments.  Shoot even I don’t think I’d do that….no wait, I might! Lol.  But I wouldn’t tell others to follow suit, but come on people!! Some of you are running your household like a daycare meets America’s Next Top Model!!  Does your 2 year old really need a purse from Burberry mom? And Pop does lil Aiden really, really feel comfortable with that big old Hermes belt buckle holding up his diaper?  I hope as much attention is paid to Junior’s spelling as it is his name brand jeans. And I pray Princess knows how to add 1+1, before she knows what red bottoms are.
But hey I don’t have kids right so what do I know?  I don’t know how to swim either but I damn well can tell you how to drown!

– SLANG HUGH

Slang Hugh can be found on instagram @slanghugh

The Rational Post – “The Gender Adjustment” – SLANG HUGH

International women’s day has just recently passed. And for 24 hours North America expressed its politically correct support of all things of the feminine gender. Insurmountable PDAs all over social media and WhatsApp statuses heralding the great accomplishments of the most beautiful species to ever grace our planet. And deservedly so. It had me thinking about how far women have come in the last few decades or so.

No longer do we look at them to be barefoot and pregnant, in the kitchen, making breakfast burritos and pancakes for hubby and the kids, all while breastfeeding lil junior. Now we expect her to do all of that and hold down a career. At least that what it seems like. It appears that our primitive perspectives on the abilities of women throughout history may have, ironically built us a social and ambitious Voltron. The perfect synergy of independence and responsibility, but is anything really perfect?

While this growth in humanity and equality should be more than applauded, and supported, we must recognize that there is some dry humor within this story of triumph. Or better yet confusion, gender role confusion.

In the rise of women to power, men and women seem to be baffled as to where they fit in each other’s lives. Men not too sure if the man that their father was, is now archaic and often the Neanderthal of this modern gender role mix era.   And women are unsure whether they can fulfill their obligations of job, relationship and children responsibly, while allowing a man to help with any of it. Yes our ladies may have gained a lot of freedom, and independence, but they may have sacrificed love and family to get it.

Women have made the most adjustments, but the juggling also effects the lions in the circus called relationship. We men have become bewildered with our own state. For years we were told to be more sensitive, caring.   Not to try and be so tough, it’s ok to cry etc. Some found it to be a tough transition. Others compromised what was once considered a natural stance to bend in for change.

The pendulum swing hasn’t fully come to a stop. We are stuck in a weird space where buying your woman a beautiful dress, makes you a gentlemen, but asking her where she going while wearing it makes you a pig. In a masculine purgatory of opening doors and respecting independence. While she just wants companionship but not the old fashioned ego that often comes with it. A man to be the head of the household but not the boss of her.

This leaves us in love purgatory, where neither of us can relate enough to make a relationship. A constant tug of war to see who runs things. All I hear about is men and women complaining about not being able to find a good opposite version of themselves to settle down with. Maybe it’s because we don’t’ know whether to “act” like men or women anymore? Maybe it’s because we don’t even know what a man and woman is supposed to act like? Perhaps there’s a middle ground that we are missing? One thing is for sure, we are in a transition period, what I like to call the gender adjustment. And if it’s up to cats like the brother Jaden Smith we will have no use for the word GENDER in the future.

-SLANG HUGH

Slang Hugh can be found on instagram @slanghugh

“I can’t Live Without My Radio” – the Rational Post – Slang Hugh

“I Can’t Live Without My Radio”

The club or the radio is no longer the place for good music… sorry let me rephrase that. The club or the radio is no longer a place for GREAT music.

You will get the music that makes you move or makes you feel good, and as long as you have that, the content quality is irrelevant. Most of the people can recite the simplistic lyrics they hear not because they can relate to them, but because they hear it 80 times a day. How many of us screaming “BALLIN”, have ever had a tennis ball size of dollars to waste never mind the basketball sized dreams we shoot every time that song comes on. When is the last time you saw an ounce of coke that wasn’t covered with a red and white swirling label, and yet you are singing with great commitment on how much “IN LOVE WITH THE COCO” you are.

It can be argued that this music is so popular because it allows the listener to escape their reality. Much like a Sci-Fi action movie it is the window into a world that we aren’t familiar with and therefore are excited for the experience. To some extent I agree with this idea. I get that playing a game of musical dress up can be fun. Hell when I was a kid I moonwalked like MJ or did the foot shuffle like James Brown. Dressed like Bugaloo Shrimp or shaved my head with ONYX. Yet those days of role play seemed much less harmful to its listeners. What’s the worst that could happen when we emulated Bobby Brown’s My Prerogative dance moves? a hard slap from mom for being a little too exuberant with the pelvic thrusts? Exactly compared to our heroes these major radio play artists are the Cobra Commanders to our Lt. Hawks and G.I. Joes. And it has a generation of kids growing up wanting to be just like the misogynist, greedy, money chasing, sexually explicit, drug paraphernalia totting, violent advocating, entitled artists they hear and see every day. We can easily apply those adjectives to our youth of today. And how can you blame the product of Drug talk and Dollar throwing for trying get rich or die trying. To want what they want despite consequence. And that’s not exclusive to the evil dollar it includes the opposite sex and sex in general.

Ya ya I know we had Prince and Marvin Gaye talking about sex right? Well Marvin wanted sexual healing “wake up wake up wake up, let’s make love tonight.” And Prince is the one that we know as the King of Dirty songs, one of his worse lines “Take me baby, kiss me all over/Play with my love/Bring out what’s been in me 4 far 2 long”. Now let’s fast forward to the 2000s to the current reigning queen of Hip Hop Nicki Minaj “This dude named Michael used to ride motorcycles/Dick bigger than a tower, I ain’t talking ’bout Eiffel’s/Real country-ass nigga, let me play with his rifle/Pussy put his ass to sleep, now he calling me NyQuil”. In fact forget the lyrics, check the song titles, The Dream’s “P***y”, Estelle’s “Make her Say (Beat it Up)”, then go listen to the songs, and you won’t be surprised.

And I don’t want to act like the golden years of urban music lacked the 2 live crews and NWAs. Sex, drugs and violence has been and will always be a good seller. We all like to hear the degradative music at times. We all want to let go and just be for moments in our lives. The problem is the balance! Or lack thereof. We have far too many Ja Rules and not enough Tupacs, overwrought with Blurred Lines, with What’s Going Ons, far and between!! I remember going to places like Party center and hearing Public Enemy mixed with Tribe Called Quest mixed with King Tee, mixed with En Vogue, and the list goes on. Nowadays the DJs seem to be all plugged in to one universal podcast, in which one artist performs the same song to the same beat that sometimes has a remix on every 3rd song. The creativity is gone in our music, the intelligence gone in our lyrics. Shoot half the time we can’t even understand the words being said, and that’s not due to them being too complex either.

All is not lost, like I said the good music is no longer on the radio or in the clubs but it is out there! As much as the internet has all but destroyed the record companies, it has created a platform for the most underground, fresh, different, and even weird music. Nowadays the good music isn’t handed to you. You have to put on your Indiana Jones hat and go searching for such treasures. You’re not going to find Joey Bada$$ at the top of the sand pile, you’re not going to discover a Drew Anthuny or Ro James without using a flashlight a little bit. Part of the problem is that we wait for the hipsters to dictate to us what we are allowed to like. In some ways the radio and record companies have transformed into these bloggers and cool kids on the net that blow up certain mainstream artists such as Bey, J, Ri, Drake etc. while the others are forgotten and therefore largely ignored by the masses. As usual many artist break through that glass ceiling and cultivate a strong following to propel them to at least B list celebrity. And sadly by that time they have been changed to maintain that status.

Same old soup warmed up a little bit and we slurp it right up. No one to blame but ourselves, the good music is out there, it’s just for us to seek it. Like most good things in life, you can’t attain it without some work, just ask that winter body girl with the summer body dreams.

– SLANG HUGH

Slang Hugh can be found on instagram @slanghugh

Check Out Slang Hugh with TOKS on the podcast The Man Dem – https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-man-dem/id1144116291?mt=2itunes.apple.com

the RATIONAL POST by SLANG HUGH – “JUSTICE BY NUMBERS”

Picture this. You’re driving along on a warm spring evening, and you get a call from a friend. Your phone is attached to the Bluetooth so you press the answer button on you steering console and say hello. You, enjoying the convo so much that your foot effortlessly presses down on the gas, without you being the wiser. After all you’re just following the flow of traffic, and there’s a car slightly ahead of you, a lane over. And bam it happens, an officer appears out of the Wild Wild West, with the cowboy stance, cocked radar gun, and raised left hand that would command a deaf man to halt. “Shit”! You curse to yourself, “damn it, it is the end of the month, isn’t it?!”

Yea it’s the end of the month. Such a simple phrase, with such a complex foundation, when referring to law and order. It’s the end of the month, and the hunt was on. This was the time of the month where law abiding, everyday drivers, know to skate on thin ice, in the spring, with tank road wheels and tracks. We know that it’s the cop’s last chance to fulfill their offering to the almighty numbers. They must meet their requirements of justice by quota.

Justice by quota huh?   Think about that.

A police man or woman is required to write a certain amount of traffic tickets in a month. They don’t call it a quota of course, although the description of the practice is eerily similar. Justice by the numbers. And this is just for traffic tickets. Simple violations of speeding or driving with only one headlight are enforced largely, not for public safety but because someone has a boss to answer to. And he has a boss that answers to the almighty sum. And I get it, being in law enforcement is a job, and therefore somehow the employees must be held accountable. Yet it seems to me that we have made the mistake of grossly accepting what is, as what is should be.

Law and order have been casted in a Sesame Street like cartoon skit, in which the digits on a paper come alive and belt out a catchy sing a long lesson of how to hit citizens with fines and suspensions.   And I say again, that’s just traffic tickets. If on what we could consider the base level of law enforcement, traffic laws appear to be, then imagine what is done on the higher levels, such as robbery or even murder. Are we to believe that the detectives aren’t told to solve a certain amount of robberies within a certain time frame? Are we to believe that the homicide division has no parameters or time expectations attached to their occupation? That would be as ridiculous as thinking that because the team leader, at the call center you work in, no longer has to take calls, he/ she no longer has to listen to and grade a certain amount of calls.  The jobs and requirements change but both still co-exist. Any job you can think of comes with bosses and quotas to please them.

The big difference between that call center job and being a police person is stress and obligation. The weight of a city’s safety is far more Herculean to lift than Mr. Thompson’s smartphone bill. But the only difference between the traffic cop and the homicide detective is the degree of difficulty. It’s much easier to find a speeder than it is a murderer, unless of course you’re forced to find a guilty culprit in both scenarios. It’s no surprise that prisons are filled with those who claim to be innocent. What is more of a secret, is that many actually are. See the numbers are there to make sure the lazy guy in the call center takes as many calls as the diligent worker. What makes you think that being in the employ of the city or government is any different? Connect the dots. If someone’s pay check and therefore, rent, mortgage, food, clothing, and overall well-being is dependent on them meeting certain numeric ideals set by their superiors, in most cases, that someone will do what it takes to keep their job. And in some cases, that someone will do anything to fulfill their obligations!

I remember an HBO show called The Wire, which I deemed the most realistic cop show ever made. So real that it depicted the members of the police force as quite simply, complex humans. Some felt the call to duty, others simply felt the need of a pay check. And in both cases not all were on a noble journeys to do better for civilian or family. Hierarchal Pressure, mixed with prejudice, and systematic oppression leads to innocence being tarnished by numbers at the hands of officers. If you have a quota and time limit to meet, damn sure the not so empathetic amongst the Police force will grab up the first person that “fits the description”. If you need to keep food on your table, you may not feel right doing it but it’s not farfetched that you may plant a couple grams here and there. And I’m trying to paint a picture of corruption, although it does exist.   I’m speaking of the guy who doesn’t want to harass the teenager on the street, but he knows doing so might give him a better chance at finding something and bolster his arrest record and then result in him moving up in rank eventually, than speaking to the kid and getting to know him, so that he doesn’t have to feel like all cops are enemies tends to become a less desirable option. This leads to a stigma and wide gap between Police and public relations.

I’m a 40 something black male, who’s lived in Toronto and the suburb of Brampton my whole life, never committed a crime, but have never encountered a Policeman in a situation of positivity.   And I’ve been stopped by police for everything from traffic violations to drug trafficking. Of the former I may have been guilty, of the latter never. The system is flawed based on the idea that justice and what’s right can be defined in quantity and not quality. It should never be reduced to how many tickets and suspects can be tallied.

By no means is this a bashing of the brave men and women who put on that uniform every day and literally risk their lives doing a job I’d never even consider. This is about the system in which they operate. And how it operates.   People are not numbers, and their treatment or justice shouldn’t be looked at through a calculator screen. To me the math is simple, but to them it may just be…numbers.

– SLANG HUGH

*SLANG HUGH can be heard alongside TOKS as part of  the podcast “THE MAN DEM”. https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-man-dem/id1144116291?mt=2itunes.apple.com  

He can also be found on instagram @slanghugh

“ONCE WERE KINGS” – THE RATIONAL POST by SLANG HUGH

I looked at the magazine with the bold title that stated Black History Month emblazon across it with an inviting font for any who wished to learn or reeducate.  It wasn’t a very big magazine, in fact it was closer to a pamphlet, or if I was to be more flattering of its size I’d say it was children’s book thick.  if this collection of pictures and words was a woman it would’ve known I was lying and either slap me for being so rude, or walk away at such an exaggeration about her mediocre frame.  But this piece of history, my history, was inanimate and couldn’t rightfully respond to my thought in kind. Instead it just laid there.  At first I was bothered by the meager size.  Don’t judge the book by its cover, I know, but the lack of mass made me not only judge, but executioner in that moment.  I already was dreading the lack of a true and full history, awaiting me on the interior.  As I stared at the cover, wondering if I should even bother waking the black hulk inside of me, with what I believed to be the prejudged annoyance that laid between those sheets, I noticed something else.  There was a picture of what seemed to be a young black woman’s eyes.  The pic was black and white but I made what I consider a great discernment that she was black.   Perhaps it was the title that sparked this Sherlock Holmes like brilliance.  What I also discovered through my magnified psyche was what the young lady’s eyes said.   They were sad and in, what I saw, as pain.  Instantly I felt sorry for her without even knowing her story.  I imagined that if that cameraman had pulled back 3 or 4 feet, I’d find a scene from one of those “Adopt an African child, for a $1 a day commercials”.  Complete with the “Arms of an Angel” crooning of Annie Lennox, soundtrack to help drive home the disparity.   And then it hits me.  Is this what black history looks like? Is this what we consider a positive representation of black people, in a month that is said to celebrate them? Sad, pitiful and in need of help? Downtrodden, poor and in tears? Is this the poster child of Black History Month?

I’m not one to believe in the necessity of a black history month period.  Black history should be as celebrated as any other history, and treated with the same respect.   It should be taught in schools, with just as much focus as other cultures.    The John F. Kennedy story can’t be told without the Martin Luther King part.  Just as the story of Martin shouldn’t be left without a reference to Gandhi finding inspiration in him.  This should be year-round and not regulated to a month.  My history is not any more important than yours, and it’s not any less important! But fine, February is the month, come and gone, and of course I understand why. There’s is a void and perhaps for now this is the most sand we can get to fill this black hole. The world is more concerned with what is than what should be.  So, February is the closest you’ll ever get to a 40 acres and mule.

All I’m asking is, must the mule be old and sick? And does the 40 acres have to be in the desert?!?!? Our history did not begin with slavery! I know I know, that’s one of those “we all know this” things, right?  Well apparently, the publishers and writers of this book, I mean magazine, I’m sorry pamphlet failed to recognize.  Why not a picture of a great Egyptian Pharaoh on the front? Or how about Mansa Musa the richest black man ever!! Estimated the 4th richest man in history! Like the movie about one of our greatest we “Once We’re Kings”! But why do we seem to have to be regulated to a story that starts with us in chains rather than adorned in gold ones when the story is relayed?  Nothing about Nat Turner’s revolt or the Maroons rebellion against their enslavers. No mention of the strength and resilience the people of that time really showed. Our history didn’t end with civil rights either!! I know I know more redundant facts from Slang Hugh huh?  But the photographer for this cover seems to need a reminder.   Hey why not let a regal picture of great inventor George Washington Carver, or the beauty of the brave Viola Desmond, the Canadian Rosa Parks, grace the cover?  Or how about representing our present victories such as business magnate Michael Lee Chin?

I wish I could tell you that I opened the book and the first pages made this entire blog entry unnecessary.  I wish I could say that.  But as predicted the sigh barely had time to rest in between my fears and actuality.  The actuality, was that the fears were warranted.  Page 1 to 5 of a 15-page booklet was about slavery and the underground railroad, which brought many blacks to Canada.  Such a rich and monarchial his and her story reduce to whips, chains, and brutal fights for freedom. And with that I have a simple request.  Well simple to me.    Keep the little girl for the cover, but next time have her smiling and in a strong stance with her black fist up in pride!  Because despite all that struggle you printed on pages 1 through 5, Page -100 to 0 would show why we were strong enough and proud enough to not only survive but thrive!!  And that is truly BLACK HISTORY.